It was late and they were standing on Simone's small balcony again, staring out at Chinatown and the Seasons Greeting sign in Little Italy, strung up far too early in the year. The end of November, the air was unusually cold, but that didn't stop Daniel from enjoying a scotch and Simone from smoking a cigarette. They'd been seeing each other for nearly two months, not much time but time enough to develop certain habits and comforts. They were good together, they told each other this, and Daniel, who respected Simone and believed in her, moved in closer to his lover, who was shivering, and wrapped his arms around her. If you'd seen them that night, or any night, you might've said the same thing: they are good together. But you weren't there that night, no one was, save these two thirty-year-olds who were struggling to make sense of who they were and what they wanted from each other.
That night had begun with dinner and ended in Simone's bedroom, where the two got reacquainted with each other's smells and voices, the sanctity of voices lovers maintain in those more intimate moments, when the world drops away and it's only the two of them, alone. They kissed and Daniel detected something in Simone's face, a slight distance that hadn't been there before. It concerned him and for the first time since they'd been seeing each other, he said something: "Does this end the kissing portion of the evening?"
Simone laughed and then sighed a little, at which point, Daniel climbed off her and went into the darkened kitchen. Simone followed and started talking, but Daniel interrupted her, said he needed a scotch and a cigarette and then went out onto the balcony.
So there they were, on a fall night in Manhattan, at Simone's downtown apartment, the sky barren of clouds. "I guess this is our first fight," she said.
"We aren't fighting," he said. "We're just talking."
And so they did. Daniel let Simone do most of the speaking, which she did, opening up to him in ways he never thought possible. Simone told him about her ex-boyfriend (five years on and off), how she thought she was still in love with him, how he was probably still in love with her as well. The conversation turned to kissing, why it happened sometimes between them and not others. Simone said that Daniel reminded him of her ex, that there were too many ghosts, that kissing him brought up memories of the sex they'd shared. "Don't you find me attractive?" Daniel said, eventually. He was slow and methodical, a new tack for him. He stood there, taking Simone in, trying to gauge what he could and couldn't say. He had no desire whatsoever to hurt her; it was the furthest thing from his mind.
"Of course, I find you attractive," she said, but for some reason, this answer wasn't satisfactory and Daniel, feeling defensive and disappointed and saddened by the night's sudden turn, said, "I've slept with girls far hotter than you."
Once the words slipped out, he wished he could call them back, but he couldn't. They floated on the cold fall air and lingered there, between them. It was a terrible moment, freighted with his feelings for Simone, which had grown over the course of the last few weeks. They spoke for a few more minutes and then went back inside, to the safe and warm confines of her bedroom. There, they laid down again, wrapped up in each other. It happened quickly and effortlessly that night and began with Simone kissing him, first gently, then passionately, until they were sweating under the sheets. But the sting of Daniel's words were still there, still in his ears, as his lover whispered, "I want to know you for a long, long time," still there, when they awoke in the morning to more sex.
It is not every day that two people find each other, that two people out of an entire planet of people come together, however briefly, however intensely. It's a shame Daniel said what he said, but might it not be even more of a shame to have let other, more tender words go by? At the writing of this, Simone announced that she needed some space and Daniel, respecting that, gave it to her, unconditionally. Because isn't that what being with someone else is all about? Aren't we all looking for someone who will grant us our biggest and smallest wishes, whatever they are? Aren't we all, like Daniel and Simone, fighting to make the right wish, which will be granted no matter the cost to love?